A few weeks ago when I was at Asheville Yoga Center for the Viniyoga module for my 300-hour teacher training, the AYC teacher training program manager came in on Sunday to recognize a few yogis who were graduating from the 300-hour program. Gary Kraftsow, who was leading our Viniyoga training, made the suggestion to the group that we look at it not as a graduation but rather a commencement. He said the word commencement connotes the beginning of something and that finishing your training doesn’t mean that your journey is over, but rather just beginning with all the new knowledge that you have!
Last weekend my VIDA Hot Yoga 200-hour yoga teacher trainees reached the commencement of their program. I always tell my yoga students and trainees that the practice and the journey of learning and self-discovery is never over. Just when you think you’ve mastered one pose, so many new ones open up to you. Once you grasp certain yogic philosophies and principles, you crave deeper knowledge. As you get to know yourself better, you want to continue to grow. I encourage them not to be overwhelmed or discouraged by this but rather EXCITED that it’s a never-ending process in which you just keep learning and “leveling up” to the next realm of knowledge and consciousness.
Today, I am light years away from where I was when I completed my 200-hour teacher training nine years ago. After spending over a decade practicing and the last nine years teaching yoga, my physical practice has evolved and become much more open-minded to different ways of moving and thinking. I am constantly examining how I teach the physical practice to others. My relationship with yoga outside of the physical is deeper and my relationship with myself and understanding of my place in the world and how I show up in it is something that I have improved and am constantly working at.
That said, where I was nine years ago when I was fresh out of teacher training and eager to share what I had learned was not wrong, it was perfect! I was where I was and that was a beautiful thing. That enthusiasm and love for the practice is what has propelled me to do the work of growing, changing and evolving. It’s a process. There is no magical moment where you will be enlightened and “know it all.” I love the teacher that I was all of those years ago as much as the teacher that I am today, even though I know that I still have so much more learning, growing and evolving to do.
My friend Adam Whiting (who also did teacher training with me all those years ago and has gone on to teach in Charlotte and around the world) shared something in one of his recent trainings from one of his teachers. It was, “If you’re not horrified by the teaching you did two years ago, you’re not growing fast enough.” While that is definitely strong language and probably offensive to some, that level of seeking growth is something that is really speaking to me right now.
Friend and fellow teacher Kati Buckner reframes it in a softer way by quoting Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better, do better.”
So when I send my yoga teacher trainees off to commence their journeys as yoga teachers, most of them do so with excitement but also trepidation. Do I know enough? Are people going to respect me? Who will want to take my class as a new teacher? Am I good enough? And I tell them…the only way to getter better is to live it, breathe it, practice it, do it and teach it.
Say yes to every opportunity you get to teach. Teach the 5a and weekend classes. Practice and take other teacher’s classes. Be present at the studio and immerse yourself in the community. Don’t just be open to feedback but seek out feedback from senior teachers and your students. Love yourself through a choppy sequence or giving cues that don’t land with students…this is how we learn how to do it and say it better next time.
For those of you who aren’t yogis, I’m sure you can take everything I am saying and apply it to another area of your life. One of the most postitive shifts that I’ve experienced over the last several years in regards to my work in the yoga and fitness industry is adopting more of a beginner’s mindset. There are so many different ways to approach and apply this practice of yoga to bodies and to life and I am HERE for learning as much as I can about as many of them as possible.
The teacher trainees that I just graduated at VIDA were the studio’s second group of trainees. It’s been so inspiring to watch the senior teachers cheer them on and take them under their wings and selflessly spend time mentoring them. To work in an environment where beginnings are so celebrated is a really special thing.
This was my first all-female group of teacher trainees. In all the years that I have assisted, co-led and led trainings of my own, there’s always been at least one male in training. It’s not good or bad either way, but this was different. These ladies went deep on a level that I have never seen a group go before. They challenged me to grow as a leader and they challenged each other to grow as people and as teachers.
They were raw, vulnerable, courageous, open-hearted, trusting, kind, loving and FUNNY! There was no shortage of tears or laughter in this teacher training.
What a blessing it was to connect so deeply with these strong and powerful women. It was an honor to be a part of helping them build the foundation they needed to being their journeys as yoga teachers.
My next 200-hour yoga teacher training will be at VIBE5 Yoga + Fitness in Charlotte and we start on March 13. You can get details here. I will be back at VIDA in January 2021 to lead our third 200-hour. We already have five yogis committed for that training. Craziness! Get details on that training here.
I have said it before and I’ll say it a million more times, I pinch myself every day that I get to do this work. <3
How do you think you’ve grown and changed the most over the last 10 years?
Do you have any trainings, certifications, courses, etc on your radar?
What would your dream job be? (Or what do you do if you’re already doing it?)